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Retail Business Consulting For Independent Retailers Based In Raleigh, NC. Cynthia Deis Will Help You Start A Retail Business or Reinvigorate Your Legacy Business With Focused Ideas and Implementation Tips

Have your best show booth ever

How to have a great show booth with a few simple steps. Don’t make mistakes when taking your art or craft to a show. Set up a booth that sells product and makes your work easier.



During the busy summer show season I get so many requests from clients for tips on setting up their booths at oudoor art and craft shows. I understand the fear from both first-time and experienced sellers. Your booth space is important.

Here are my top tips for a great show booth:

1. Bring enough product. There are two reasons to bring enough product. One reason is that a full booth looks more interesting to browsers and makes them want to see what you have. An empty booth looks picked-over or amateur or worse. You can fill up a booth just a bit with more props or signage, but product is what sells.

The second reason to bring enough product is economic-you want the show to be worth your time. How can you know if you have enough product to do a show? Think about it from a percentage standpoint. You will have a good show if you have a 30% sell through, a great show if you have a 40% sell through and a fantastic show if you have a 50% sell through. Anything over that is in the once-in-a-lifetime realm*. Keeping that in mind, look at the amount of product you are bringing and do the math. If you feel that the show will be worth your time if you sell $1000 worth of merchandise but you only bring $1500 worth than you are anticipating not just a fantastic show but a once-in-a-lifetime, quit-your-day job kind of show. Artists who do shows on a regular basis know that you need a full booth with lots of selection so you can make sales.

2. Create a line. Look at what you are selling. Do all the items look like they were made by the same person or do they look like the contents of fifteen different artist's studios? Yes, you need to experiment but not every experiment should make the show. Too many different crafts in too many different colors and shapes and sizes is just confusing. If shoppers can't decide if they want to come into your booth or just lie down with a towel over their eyes they will keep walking.

If you do create more than one grouping of work than keep them separated. Put your quilted pillows together on one table and your resin belt-buckles on another.

3. Define your space. If you are showing outside, get a tent. Inside or outside, get table coverings and use simple, repetitive props. Make sure folks know where your display ends and the other displays begin. I like rugs or other floor coverings if the show allows them and one of the simplest ideas I have ever seen was to use checkerboard squares of Contact paper on a concrete floor in an indoor show. The floor was eye-catching & cheap and at the end of the show the squares were peeled up and tossed out.

About props- I am a big fan of using props in a single color scheme and even a single shape if possible. Mixed up tables with cuff-links in a vintage pie plate, a crystal bowl of earrings and two different department-store looking necklace bars make me crazy. I get so distracted by the props I can barely concentrate on the artwork. Repeat shapes and colors and edit, edit, edit.

4. Communicate with your customers. Of course, you should talk to your customers (duh!) but you should also use signs to communicate with them. Do you take custom orders? Have free gift wrap? Ship? Have a website or etsy site? Do you teach classes or are you featured in a book? Make signs and put them in your booth. Print your signs out on a computer, use a large legible font and use all the same colored paper. Signs are props!

5. Your booth is not your living room. I am a fan of standing in your booth, not eating in your booth and greeting everyone who comes in your booth. Put down your phone. Snack on nuts or a smoothie. Save the candy crush and giant hoagie sandwich for after the show. 

6. Get someone else to handle the social media posting during the show. This does not have to be someone who is with you at the show, just someone who you can trust. Give them photos and text and access to your accounts. They can post a picture of an item you have at the show, with text promoting the show (use # and @ as much as needed!) a few times before and during the show while you SELL TO THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU! Yes, put your phone away except for running charges and just interact with your customers. Your sales will increase, I promise! 

Do you have any other booth set up ideas? Comments? Message me through my contact form, I'd love to hear them?